What is Line Dancing?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Line dancing is a formation dance that has origins reaching back into traditional folk dancing. Since the latter part of the 20th century, it has been more closely identified with country and western music, although there are examples of the group dance found with pop music as well. Many country music clubs regularly hold line dances for their customers, with all patrons invited to participate.

Line dancing originated with traditional folk dancing.
Line dancing originated with traditional folk dancing.

The basics of line dancing are very simple. Participants stand in either a single line or a succession of parallel lines if the number of people and the amount of floor space require this arrangement. While the dancers will move without touching one another, they will execute the same moves at the same time. This gives the dance a strong sense of cohesiveness, even though there is no physical interaction between the participants.

The movement that takes place is normally queued off what is known as the count. Generally, one count is equal to one musical beat. Movements take place at each beat. While the basics of line dancing address movements of the feet and legs, more complicated dance routines will also include hand movements and even facial expressions as part of the overall effect.

Often a staple with folk music and dancing around the world, the concept of line dancing began to take hold in other genres during the 1960s and 1970s. Country music was the first to embrace the form, and remains the foundation for many of the more popular line dances today. Pop music also has made use of this style of dancing from time to time, however. While many musicologists identify line dancing with the disco era of the late 1970s and the early 1980s, others note that line dances such as the Hustle were popular as early as 1974.

Today, many different musical genres are compatible with the art of line dancing. Along with folk, country, and pop music, it can also be employed with swing, big band, and Celtic music. The symmetry and graceful movements that are often a part of the dancing make it possible for just about anyone to enjoy it.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@Comfyshoes -Comfyshoes - I love that song, but I have to say that people that don’t feel confident can learn line dancing at home. There are many line dancing DVDs that show the steps in a slower manner so that you can master the routine.

I don’t worry if I am a little off. I just dance to have fun, but some people might feel more comfortable with a little practice at home so that no one will see their mistakes.


The first time that I went into a country bar I was amazed at how everyone knew all of the line dancing steps. Not one person was off. I think that line dancing lessons would be fun, but I prefer the soul line dancing instead of the country line dancing because I don’t really like country music.

The song that I really taught me how to line dance was with the song, “Electric Slide.” That is a fun song that I think is played at every wedding.

Line dancing songs like this really get everyone dancing and having fun. They are great for all types of parties.

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